Ask an Agent: Activities for Teen Advisory Board?

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! Our volunteer Agents are on the job! Here’s what they have to say this week….

Question: What are some activities and tasks you give your Teen Advisory Boards to do? I am in the process of revamping the entire teen program and don’t want this group to simply be a glorified decoration making committee.


Doris (Steele Library, Chemung County Library Distric ) says:

I suggest reframing your thinking from “what tasks do we (librarians) give TABs?”  To “What does my Teen Advisory Board want to do, what do they want their library to do or be, for them?”  Ask them what they’d like to do. Their interests and passions can be your (ever-evolving!) polestar. Make sure they do most or all of the work, (not you).  As much as possible, you can guide, support, suggest, help them plan, and moderate, but do not take over from them. Also, provide ways for teens outside the TAB to give feedback on what they want at the library.

Examples of what my TAB have done: 1) created programs for teens based on their interests or what they see as being popular among their peers,  such as Open Mic Night, LARP, fandom nights, etc. 2)  Manned library booths at community events. 3) Created and edited a teen library podcast. 4) Chose summer reading prizes,  5) taught T-shirt makeover, or video game making workshops.
Some library TABs are in charge of displays, suggesting books, music and movies to order for the library, and are responsible for the library’s teen facebook page, or putting book and media reviews on the library site. Other TABs are passionate about their community and have run food drives, prom dress donation programs and more.

Kelsey (Burnham Memorial Library ) says:

They’re less of a formal group right now, but we have annual library events that could use as many extra hands as possible whenever the teens need some hours or want to help. We have a Halloween party for families (a teen favorite because they dress up), Holiday Tree lighting day, and our Valentine delivery. It’s more  of a challenge for me to keep them from being a volunteer factory! We’re working on teen-run, teen-attended movie nights. What if they planned and ran their own events for themselves and their friends? Could they advise on music and book purchases for the collection? Good luck!

Melissa (Cherry Hill Public Library) says:

Your mileage may vary, but here are some of the projects, programs, and tasks I do with my TAB:
-writing/directing/acting in a promotional video for the Library’s Summer Reading Program
-curating book displays (I’ll do a theme like “books with blue covers”  to make it faster for them to find books)
-decorating a Little Free Library (which was placed in a park in our town) — this was done in conjunction with our Parks department
-program prep for children’s and teens program (cutting & sorting shapes, preparing Make and Take craft bags)
-planning a story time for kids ages 2-5
-Book Buddies (pairing up with a younger kid to read for an hour)
-team-building activities and icebreakers (some of my favorites are listed here – credit to Emily Moore from Camden County Library in NJ).
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about these!

Sarah (Warren-Trumbull County Public Library) says:

My TAB often creates displays of their favorite books – which also means putting away the old books. I’ve had them cut out stuff for kid’s crafts & upcoming programming, do event prep for teen events, clean books, choose posters for various library branches, choose prizes for the summer reading program, re-do the summer learning challenge, create bingo challenges, and of course, decorate the teen space. To be fair, though, they REALLY like doing the decorating!

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